In 1997 Columbia University Libraries received funding from the United Board to create a digital version of Ling Lung. This magazine is frequently requested by scholars from all over the world because, as far as we can determine, Columbia has the only relatively complete run available outside of China. Unfortunately, because it was printed on acidic paper, its pages have become extremely brittle and break when handled. The goal of this project was both to create a long-lived preservation surrogate for the volumes and to make a copy available on-line to all interested readers.
The magazine consists of text accompanied by a large number of graphics, many in color. Therefore, black-and-white microfilm is not a sufficient means of preservation, nor is it satisfactory for those scholars whose research involves the illustrations. However, since microfilm is still the most stable preservation medium available, the first step was to create a complete microfilm of the magazine according to standard preservation procedures. The master negative has been placed in archival storage in perpetuity. Positive copies of the film can be ordered by individuals or institutions who wish to own copies by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
To create the initial digital version, the black-and-white microfilm was scanned bitonally at 600 dots per inch on a SunRise SRI-50 scanner by Preservation Resources of Bethlehem, PA (which also did the actual microfilming). The purpose in scanning the film rather than the original volumes was to limit the amount of handling the brittle originals would be subjected to. TIFF files were delivered to Columbia along with a datafile associating each volume, issue, and page to the correct filenames. The 600 dpi TIFF files, stored using lossless CCITT Fax 4 compression, along with the datafile constitute the digital archive for Ling Lung.
Lower-resolution versions were then derived from the master files by Columbia's Academic Information Systems. For each page an inline GIF image was created and optimized for screen viewing as a 600x1000 pixels in 4-bit gray-scale. Each page file was also provided with an Adobe Acrobat PDF file to permit easy printing at 300 dpi.
The next step, producing color versions of the illustrations, is currently under way. The color versions are being produced in the Columbia University Libraries Preservation Division by scanning directly from the original volumes, using a Hewlett Packard 6100CSE flatbed scanner. The 300 dpi, 24-bit color files are being added to the digital archive, while lower resolution versions are being produced for on-screen and printing purposes.
If you have questions and comments, please contact Janet Gertz, Director for Preservation, Columbia University Libraries: email@example.com. Also, you may view the Preservation Department's home page.